World Kidney Day – March 14

At this moment, there are more than 117,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant in the United States. In Maryland, of the more than 2,200 people waiting, nearly 1,800 are listed for kidney transplant. There are many health factors that can lead to needing a kidney transplant such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Caught early, these diseases can often be managed, and kidney damage can be slowed or stopped. Early testing for people at risk is key. Always talk with your doctor about any concerns or changes with your body. And remember, eat right and get exercise! For more information on keeping your kidneys healthy visit

Today, in support of World Kidney Day, The Living Legacy Foundation shares the personal stories from our kidney recipients about the amazing gifts they have received!

Mike with his wife, Christa and brother, Sean.

Mike with his wife, Christa and brother, Sean.

Mike Gahagan
Eight year kidney recipient
Baltimore, Md.

My kidney failure was diagnosed during routine pre-op testing for hernia surgery. As a course of treatment, I selected to receive peritoneal dialysis, an alternative to hemodialysis, for the next two years because it allowed me to continue working. I was very reluctant to pursue a kidney transplant and did not want to ask any family members to make such a sacrifice. And, I was very much afraid … afraid of the surgery, afraid the transplant would reject, afraid for my very life. It was my wife, Christa, who convinced (sweet-talked, cajoled, pleaded and eventually begged) me to be evaluated and begin the process to be added to the national waiting list. After much thought, discussion and prayer, we decided to go ahead with the transplant in July of 1998. Both surgeries were uncomplicated and successful. Unfortunately, my transplanted kidney began to fail after about 7 years and I had to have a second transplant in February of 2005. My younger brother, Sean, was my donor. I have been very healthy since the second transplant.

My kidney transplants not only improved my quality of life but our entire family’s as well. It allowed me to attend my boys football games and wrestling matches, take family vacations together, attend their high school graduations and watch them go on to college. It has been a great joy and an absolute blessing to watch them grow and mature into fine young men. And it was Christa and Sean who made this all possible with their selfless acts of love. So you can understand why I feel embarrassed when people offer their kind words about my courage and strength. The fact of the matter is that it is my wife, Christa, and my brother, Sean, who rightfully deserves these tributes.

Mike Butler at the 2012 Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Mike Butler at the 2012 Transplant Games of America.

Mike Butler, Hagerstown
18 year kidney/pancreas recipient
Hagerstown, Md.

Since receiving a second chance at life in March of 1995, everyday has been a blessing. I live everyday to the fullest. Where ever I go, I carry the spirit of my donor, hero and angel Kelly with me by raising awareness for support of organ, eye and tissue donation! Happy World Kidney Day!!!


37 year kidney recipient
Cumberland, Md.

Being an organ recipient has TRULY meant LIFE in my case, as I’ve celebrated 37 years of having my kidney transplant! I was 21 years old when I relieved my transplant at the George Washington University Medical center, in Washington DC, and now, I’m about to turn 59 years old next month!
I’ve attended two International Transplant Games, and eight National Transplant Games, winning seven medals in the six Games where I could compete. It is a joy to speak to people about organ and tissue donation wherever and whenever I can!

For additional stories from recipients and donor families, please visit our website to read more touching stories from recipients and donor families.
And as we celebrate the success of transplantation today, we also take a moment to thank and celebrate the genorsity of Maryland’s organ and tissue donors, who with their selfless decision, made it possible for these recipients to share their stories with us.
Give someone on the transplant waiting list hope by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor here


About Jennifer

Jennifer Gelman is the director of Communications for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. She is responsible for creating and executing educational and awareness programs for LLF’s donor service area, along with overseeing the company’s volunteer program, and the relationship with Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration. With nearly ten years of experience in non-profit and cause-related marketing, on a national and local level, Jennifer is focused on raising awareness and creating an open dialogue about organ, eye and tissue donation throughout diverse communities the organization serves. Follow Jennifer on Twitter:
This entry was posted in Donate Life Maryland Ambassadors, Team Maryland, Transplant Recipients, Volunteers. Bookmark the permalink.

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